By Debbie Gregory.
New nonprofit organization Cohen Veterans Bioscience is looking for ways to cut the time it takes for Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress (PTS) research to transform into real-life treatments.
The goal of the company is to speed the discovery of first generation diagnostics, treatments, and cures for PTS and TBI by improving the scientific understanding of the basic biological mechanisms that set the stage for these conditions.
This is the latest endeavor supported by Steven Cohen to address the needs of our nation’s veterans. Cohen, the chairman and CEO of Point72 Asset Management, is a philanthropist who has financed other veterans mental health programs, including the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Veterans Center for the Study of Post-Traumatic Stress and Traumatic Brain Injury at NYU Langone Medical Center and the Cohen Military Family Clinic at NYU Langone.
About 1.7 million Americans experience head injuries each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Such injuries are not uncommon in the military; 327,299 troops were diagnosed with a TBI from 2000 to March 2015.
Additionally, more than 138,000 active-duty members who deployed in support of combat operations were diagnosed with PTSD from 2001 to 2015.
“Our veterans have come back from Iraq and Afghanistan facing PTS and TBI, and we owe it to them to find better diagnostic tools and treatments,” Cohen said. “PTS is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, and our service members don’t receive effective treatment as a result.”
Cohen Veterans Bioscience President and CEO, Dr. Magali Haas, said, “Despite significant investment by the National Institutes of Health and the Defense Department in basic science, there is still a huge unmet need for these individuals. There are only two approved medications for PTS and nothing for TBI. The fact that this gap exists despite these investments indicates that more work needs to be done.”
Haas says she hopes to shorten the development for diagnostics and treatments from the average 11 to 13 years to five years, and, for a diagnostic test, perhaps as little as three years.
“It is sometimes disheartening to hear it’s going to be another three, five, 10 years until we have that first-generation diagnostic test, but I think it’s actually going to be sooner than that because the investments are right,” Haas said.
“I’m proud of what we’ve done to address the mental health needs of our veterans. But we haven’t done nearly enough,” says Mr. Cohen. “With Dr. Haas’ leadership, Cohen Veterans Bioscience will advance the science and availability of new medical treatments and we will be able to help more veterans tomorrow than we did yesterday.”
Cohen Veterans Bioscience is a 501(c) (3) nonprofit